Award-winning vocal supergroup, The Tenors, joined by their talented five piece backing band, put on a powerful performance during their “Home for the Holidays” Tour stop at Caesars Windsor on Sunday night (Dec. 16). Local choirs and groups were invited, as special guests, to perform with the multi-platinum selling group, including the St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School Choir, Windsor Community Choir, Soli Deo Gloria Choir, Abridged Opera members, and older members of Music Moves Kids.
The group has performed numerous times on The Colosseum stage, including their holiday show which has become an annual tradition in Windsor. “Thank you so much Windsor,” The Tenors said early in the show. “We’re so happy to be back here, this feels like a family tradition.” The Trio of Fraser Walters, Victor Micallef, and Clifton Murray, who make up The Tenors, filled The Colosseum with harmony and phenomenal vocals, told interesting, funny, and touching personal stories, shared information about the group and some of their songs. Mixed in with the these stories was a little comedy. Combined with their backing band, special guests, and the state of the art sound and lighting system at the venue, the audience was treated to a spectacular night of entertainment filled with Christmas cheer.
The Tenors’ music has been classified as popera, a combination of classical music and modern pop, but their uncanny ability to perform a wide variety of songs including, crowd favourite rock music covers, makes that classification much too narrow. While all three are among the world’s most highly trained, experienced, and phenomenal vocalists, that is not enough for any performer to instantly connect with their audience.
What sets The Tenors apart is their ability to capture their audience’s attention. The pure emotion exuded as they put their heart and soul into each note they sang was clear during their performance at Caesars Windsor.
In addition, their backing band deserves a lot of credit. Made up of Darryn De Souza (piano), Anthony Mancini (guitar), Richard Moore (bass), Mark Inneo (drums), and Tara Kannangara (trumpet), they not only entertained with stand out moments but they also connected to the audience with a heart filled performance.
While the audience immediately clapped along the instant The Tenors kicked off the show with the popular 1880 Italian composition, Funiculì, Funiculà, many in attendance seemed to slowly move from apathetic to enthusiastic through the first few songs of the set. By the time The Tenors had concluded singing Elvis’ Blue Christmas, ending with the stage being illuminated in brilliant blue lights, the audience started to warm up. They began to sizzle, smile, and laugh when the next song, another popular 1800’s Neapolitan composition, ’O Sole Mio, was performed.
The Tenors wound up in the audience, two on their knees competing for the attention of one lady in the front row of the audience. Victor began pointing to his eyes, communicating to “look at me, not him”, when the lady was looking at Fraser as the pair serenaded her. The third Tenor, Clifton, wanting to get in on the fun sat on another audience member’s lap while serenading her.
The comedy continued in between the Christmas classics, Joy To The World, and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. The Tenors shared some of their success this year with the audience including opening for Ellen Degeneres on her speaking tour, and being nominated for a JUNO Award. They had the crowd chuckling as they said they were beat out by some “up and comer named Michael Bubble.” In reality, they are huge fans of Buble, and said, “that actually losing to him is almost as cool as winning.” But Victor did joke it would have been better to win.
The Tenors backing band began to shine with “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” Tara Kannangara on trumpet captured the audience’s attention each time she blew into that horn.
Then Darryn De Souza took his place on the front stage piano for a marvelous performance during The Tenors cover of the late great soul singer, songwriter, and keyboardist, Donny Hathaway’s, “This Christmas.” During the song, with a little encouragement from The Tenors, at least half the audience was up on their feet dancing.
The backing band also thrilled the audience when they didn’t play any instruments at all! The Tenors called the band to the front of the stage where they all sang acapella featuring the track, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, off of their latest album release. Of course, a little more Tenors comedy came through when they teased bassist Richard Moore saying he thought what they were doing was called Acapulco.
Later in the show the band went on to perform an instrumental Christmas Melody that delighted the crowd. The melody included Tara Kannangara’s terrific trumpeting of Sleigh Ride. The audience also clapped and smiled to the incorporation of Linus & Lucy, the popular Peanuts cartoon jazz piano composition, during the melody.
Another memorable backing band member moment came with The Tenors heavenly harmonic rendition of Hallelujah. Anthony Mancini took centre stage mid-song shredding and unleashing an arsenal of riffs from the electric guitar. All this took place while local school children from the St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School Choir sang background vocals.
Following Hallelujah, The Tenors pointed out that one of the choir children actually sang on The Colosseum stage with them a few years ago while the group filmed a special to be broadcast on PBS Television. The Tenors said it was a treat to have the school choir performing with them and “it feels like some of them have grown up with you.”
The children’s choir first took to the stage a few songs before Hallelujah. They were introduced following a humorous story The Tenors shared about the song that they were about to perform. In summary, The Tenors were invited to perform at the prestigious and internationally broadcast 2017 Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Square in New York City. When it was time for them to go live the trio were 50 yards or more away from their mark. So they began shoving each other and sprinted across the stage, with Victor hopping over the piano and into his place, just in time to start. It sounded like a scene from the Three Stooges. The crowd got a good laugh out of this story, particularly when Victor said, “from now on it’s my wish to get to the piano in time.” The song they performed that night was off their latest album, Christmas Together, called Santa’s Wish (Teach The World). The song was memorable and connected with the audience, in part, because of the incorporation of catchy lyrics from the song, I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony). Of course the story about Rockefeller, the children’s choir, and vocals ringing throughout The Colosseum contributed as well. An adorable moment during the song occurred when a young choir girl asked, “Hey Santa what’s your Christmas wish?” By the end of the song nearly the entire audience was captivated.
Two of the Tenors deeply connected further with the audience when they shared intimate personal stories about their mentors, both who passed away this year.
Clifton talked about an elderly gentleman by the name of Ron Small, originally from the south side of Chicago. Small was an amazing Gospel soloist in the Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir. Clifton joined the choir shortly after moving to Vancouver to pursue a music career. He described listening to Ron Small sing as “magical.” Joining the choir taught Clifton about harmony, connecting with other people and singing from your heart. Ron took interest in Clifton and began mentoring him. “He showed me the power of connecting with a song and he helped me prepare for The Tenors, what a blessing that was for me,” Clifton told the audience. “He has left an incredible legacy of music that stays with me in my heart that I’d like to share from the stage, and every Christmas in that choir he sang this beautiful song that I always dedicate to him as a thanks for his love and support.” The song is Sweet Little Jesus Boy. The Tenors heartfelt performance of this song received heavy applause and cheers.
Similarly, Victor spoke of a gentleman in Italy, where he spent six years with the Opera Company, by the name of Franco, who passed away this year. Originally his singing teacher, Franco became his mentor and a father figure. The lesson, Victor says he remembers most is when Franco told him, “remember Victor if you don’t take your heart to the stage, then the voice is nothing, you can have all the technique in the world, but don’t forget your heart.” Victor told the audience that the holiday season is when the loss of those who influenced our lives is really felt. “Whether it’s a mentor, a friend, a parent, even a pet, that has touched your life. So I’m going to send this next song out to those people. Here is The Lord’s Prayer.” Victor’s extravagant operatic vocals, coming from the heart and heavens, accompanied by the special guest choirs, filled The Colosseum and penetrated the audiences soul. This song received the biggest response from the crowd who gave a standing ovation.
The remainder of the show had the entire audience singing along in a festive holiday frenzy. Although, Sinatra’s I Did It My Way is not a holiday tune, the audience sang along, while The Tenors flavoured it with incredible opera vocals. Then The Tenors put on silly ugly Christmas sweaters, complete with working lights, and they made their band put them on too. The crowd clapped along as they were treated to candy canes the Tenors handed out while singing the track, When We Are Together. Next, The Tenors asked, “We all want to go to that warm place right? How’s Mexico?” With that question the audience clapped, cheered,danced and sang along to Feliz Navidad.
The set concluded with O Holy Night and The Tenors walking off the stage to a Colosseum full of applause. But there was an incredible encore, a fusion of rock and opera, featuring a cover of Queen’s popular classic Bohemian Rhapsody. With no disrespect to Freddie Mercury, The Tenors’ voices can not be matched on this song.
Overall, The Tenors Christmas show thrilled the audience with holiday spirit and unforgettable harmony. The trio went beyond popera, putting their heart and soul into a powerful performance, welcomed special guest choirs, and captivated the entire Colosseum inside Caesars Windsor on Sunday night.
For more about The Tenors, including their music and upcoming shows, visit https://www.tenorsmusic.com
This Friday (Dec. 21) The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor will host one more incredible holiday show, another annual tradition, The S’Aints Sleighing Hunger Concert with very special guest, Tea Party frontman Jeff “The Captain” Martin, in support of 16 local food banks.
Photos by Kevin Blondin
Kevin Blondin is an aspiring photographer studying public relations at the St. Clair College Mediaplex. He is dedicated to promoting artists, entertainment and events in the Windsor-Detroit area. Kevin has recently launched Sound & City Photography which can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.